A slipped or herniated disc causes pain and might cause numbness in your back. It can interfere with your daily activities and leave you feeling uncomfortable.
The symptoms could keep you from performing your job, which forces you to miss work. In many patients, the symptoms go away in 6 to 8 weeks, but some people need more time.
Physical therapy for a herniated disc is a common treatment option to relieve the symptoms. It can be used along with other conservative treatments. But if it doesn’t work, you might have other options. Keep reading to learn about those options.
Conservative Treatment for Herniated Discs
Doctors typically start with a conservative treatment plan for a herniated disc. That includes limiting activity, especially things that make the pain worse.
You might need to limit your activities for several days or even weeks. That can mean time off of work if you have a physically demanding job.
Your workers’ comp doctor might recommend one or two days of bed rest at the beginning of your treatment. If you stay in bed too long, your muscles might stiffen and cause more problems.
Ice packs and heat applied to the source of the pain might also help.
Physical Therapy for a Herniated Disc
Physical therapists use a variety of treatment options for herniated discs and other back injuries. This might include massage, stretching exercises, pelvic traction, ultrasound, electrical muscle stimulation, and cold and heat therapy.
Your physical therapist might also give you exercises to do at home.
Physical therapy can take time to work. Even if you’re still having symptoms of the herniated disc, make sure you give it enough time.
It’s also important that you do any home exercises your physical therapist recommends. Doing those stretches and exercises can speed up your recovery time.
Pain medications are an option for controlling the symptoms of a slipped disc. For minor pain, over-the-counter medication might be enough. Prescription pain medication is an option for some patients with severe pain.
Another option is a steroid injection in the spine at the location of the herniated disc.
In some cases, muscle relaxants might help. It can ease spasms that can sometimes occur with a slipped disc.
Surgery for Herniated Discs
Surgery isn’t usually necessary to relieve a herniated disc, but a small number of patients do need surgery. Doctors usually try to exhaust all non-surgical methods first and wait a certain length of time before recommending surgery.
Orthopedic surgery is usually only performed on people with additional problems due to the herniated disc. That includes walking difficulties, muscle weakness, and losing bladder or bowel control.
A discectomy removes the affected disc.
Another option is a lumbar laminotomy. In this surgery, the doctor removes part of the lamina, which is a bone that protects your spinal cord. This gives better access to the herniated disc and might relieve pressure on the nerves.
A spinal fusion sometimes happens after a discectomy or laminotomy. The vertebrae surrounding the affected disc are fused together for stability.
A small percentage of surgery patients might get an artificial disc. In certain discs in your lower back, your surgeon can replace it with a metal or plastic disc.
Manage Your Symptoms
When physical therapy for a herniated disc isn’t enough to ease the pain, you might need other treatment options. Working closely with your doctor is important in creating a custom treatment plan that fits your specific situation.
Did your herniated disc happen on the job? Call (888) 590-4030 to find a trusted workers’ comp doctor near you to help treat your pain.